I’ve been thinking a lot about change recently, especially with my transition from corporate life to start-up life. While I’m comfortable with change most the time, I do occasionally need some words of support. For that, I find there’s no-one better than Lao-Tzu, the founder of Taoism, who lived 2,500 years ago. He wrote:
“life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like”
Twenty years. That’s how long I worked in banking. Aside from a very brief and unhappy start in tech M&A, I’ve spent the entire time doing research. Initially, I focused on foreign exchange markets, before widening out to global economic themes and all markets. Along the way, I’ve grown as a person, had great teachers and made many friends.
In my last blog, I selected a range of sayings from philosphers, religious figures and thinkers on how to live a deep and meaningful life. There are so many insights, I had to split the blog into two, so here’s part two:
Every day, there seems to be some new “discovery” or hack that will unlock our happiness. It’s hard to know what will work and what will not. It’s for this reason, I like to remind myself of enduring wise words from people that lived before us. After all, while today’s material world is very different from the past, human nature is the same: we still seek power, money and love, and we still get angry, scared and upset by the actions of others.
I’m not the first to think like this, Rumi, the 13th century Sufi poet said ” If you’re lost, look for footprints of those that went before you”and Lao-Tze, the Chinese Taoist philosopher from 2,500 years ago wrote “By sticking to the underlying principles (Tao) of the past, you will master the life of today“. So in a two-part blog, I’ve selected some one-liners from wise people that lived before us. Here’s part one:
“Who has control in a conversation, the guy listening or the guy talking?
The listener, of course.
That’s because the talker is revealing information while the listener, if he’s trained well, is directing the conversation toward his own goals. He’s harnessing the talker’s energy for his own ends.”
That’s what Chis Voss, formerly the FBI’s lead international hostage negotiator, writes in his excellent “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It”. His insights shatter the idea that good negotiators engage in a battle of wills against their counterpart. If there is a guiding principle in the FBI’s elite negotiating team it’s that you have to remove yourself from the equation.
Roughly four years ago, I posted my first blog. It was review of a book on “Raising Boys” by Phil Zimbardo. The punchline was that boys were suffering a crisis of masculinity as they withdraw into the world of video games. I followed that by a blog called “My Optimised Morning Routine“. This eclectic mix of topics with a focus on well-being has set the tone of my blogs ever since. It’s also resulted in spin-offs like my curated newsletters and podcasts.
I will soon be watching Avengers:Endgame. It will be the climax to the 22 episode Marvel soap opera that started with Iron Man in 2008. The franchise has kept us engaged throughout. This loyalty has helped us endure the lows of Thor 2: Dark World and Incredible Hulk and been rewarded with the highs of Thor:Ragnarok, Black Panther and Infinity Wars. Being a movie data junkie, I thought I check the ratings and box office grosses of these movies to see whether I agree with them.
I’m in the process of re-thinking my work situation. Naturally, change, especially when the next step is not fully known, can feel a bit unsettling, but that’s the upfront emotional payment for greater future growth – no pain, no gain as they say. Importantly, the timing couldn’t be better for a big positive transformational change.
I got this as a gift and
I love it. It’s a special Moleskine notebook and pen that you use like a regular
writing set, but it cleverly “records” everything you write, which you then see
perfectly replicated on a Moleskine app. Amazing. It can even transcribe your
writing into digital text, although it doesn’t work for me as my writing is too
messy. I find writing with a pen and paper much better than tapping on a
screen. This gives you the best of both worlds. You write and it is stored
Parents will know that as soon as the their child is born, they subconsciously plan their child’s path to Harvard, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge or one of the other top universities. The thinking goes that by attending a top university, a world of opportunities will open up especially in the jobs market.